When you see a newborn baby with cracked, red skin, who can’t sleep for more than half an hour at a time because he’s so itchy, you understand that childhood eczema for many babies and their families is nothing short of torture. To be told it’s ‘just’ baby eczema shows a deep misunderstanding of just how devastating this condition can be.
Andrea Shell from Haslemere in Surrey discovered the heartbreak of baby eczema when her 10-week-old son’s dry skin progressed to severe eczema that prescription creams and bath oils seemed to make worse rather than better. Dissatisfied with the help offered by doctors, Andrea, an experienced veterinary nurse, embarked on an intensive period of online research, reading medical texts, research papers and other parents’ experiences to better understand her son’s condition.
Armed with information, intuition and finding the answer in a ‘smelly vest’, Andrea worked out that her son was reacting to detergents. Josh’s skin is now under control and, barring the occasional flare-up, is generally eczema free.
With the launch of her new parent to parent website Itchy Baby, Andrea shares her story and the fruits of her research with other families who have an itchy baby or child of their own. It’s been a labour of love for Andrea that has taken her from worried parent to eczema expert and, having self taught herself website coding and programming over the past 4 months, she now adds website design to her areas of expertise.
Andrea said, “The aim of Itchy Baby is simply to provide a place of information, support and community for the parents of babies suffering with baby eczema. It’s difficult to understand the distress and the impact of this condition unless you live with it.
“I hope that many parents and carers of children with eczema will share their experiences to help us build a treasure trove of information, suggestions to reduce the symptoms and ways of coping that will be a real support to other families and their itchy babies.”